2008’s Top TV Shows Online: B&C Delivers the Numbers Nielsen and Networks Won’t

By Richard Bellamy, Special to Broadcastingcable.com

When Nielsen released their top 10 lists for 2008 on Friday, they ranked the top television programs, using both Live ratings and Live+7 ratings for timeshifted viewing. But even Live+7 excludes a growing portion of viewer: those who watch television online. (Nielsen’s methodology for compiling the data also left several CW shows off of the top timeshifted programs list.)

We asked Nielsen for the top 10 television programs online in 2008, but according to a spokesperson, the company is “not measuring program level data online at this time.”

Hulu, the NBC Universal-News Corp. joint venture, does not release viewership info (we asked), and neither do several broadcast networks we contacted. So we turned to Internet TV portal SideReel, which aggregates links to content hosted elsewhere, including official streams at the networks sites, Amazon and iTunes download services, and unauthorized streams. The company provided us with a list of the top 19 television programs of 2008, based on the number of people who clicked through to those shows.

Top 19 Television Programs Online in 2008

1    Gossip Girl

2    House

3    Heroes

4    One Tree Hill

5    The Office

6    Weeds

7    Dexter

8    Prison Break

9    How I Met Your Mother

10    Entourage

11    Smallville

12    True Blood

13    Family Guy

14    Friends (1994)

15    Bones

16    Desperate Housewives

17    Sex and the City

18    90210

19    Supernatural